Saffie’s Star took centre stage as Corrie star Simon Gregson (Steve McDonald) switched on Leyland’s Christmas lights on Saturday night.
The pink star is a tribute to Saffie Roussos who, at eight years old, was the youngest victim of the Manchester Arena bombing back on May 22. The spectacular star, which is made up of aluminium and LED lighting, was specially designed by Richard Ryan, head of Blackpool Illuminations. It twinkles proudly from a tree outside The Plaice, the popular ‘chippy’ formerly owned by Saffie’s parents.
Despite the freezing temperatures and squally showers, hundreds turned out to enjoy the ‘Light Up Leyland’ Christmas Festival.
Organisers Leyland Town Team, South Ribble Borough Council and Leyland Neighbourhood Forum laid on a fantastic family afternoon out. There was the ever popular Santa’s Grotto, crafts, live entertainment on the main stage, an ice rink, Snow Globe and stalls selling food, drink, gifts and more – all provided by local businesses.
As darkness fell, a Christingle Service was held at Leyland United Reformed Church and a ‘Light Parade’ made its way along Hough Lane.
Crowds gathered around the stage as organiser Martin Carlin of Leyland Town Team introduced South Ribble Mayor Mick Titherington and the Mayoress. They were followed by an emotional appearance by Saffie’s parents Andrew and Lisa Roussos. Andrew personally thanked the town for its amazing support throughout the last six months.
Steve McDonald then delighted the crowds with a brief interview before ‘lighting up Leyland.’ He then braved the elements to join the throngs posing for ‘selfies’ and signing autographs.
Martin Carlin said: “It was a great event, we can’t help the weather, I’m grateful to everyone who helped to make it so successful.”